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Get the Picture! Contemporary Children's Book Art

July 1 - October 9, 2016


From an irascible pigeon to a bossy baby, from computer generated digital imagery to mixed media collage to pen and ink, Get the Picture! Contemporary Children's Book Art displays the broad range of subjects, styles, and working methods that make children's book illustration a remarkably creative, lively world. Organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art and on view at from July 1 to October 9, 2016, the exhibition features an exciting selection of work created by eight of the most renowned artists in the field: Sophie Blackall, Bryan Collier, Raúl Colón, Marla Frazee, Jon Klassen, Melissa Sweet, David Wiesner and Mo Willems.

The artists, who are representative of the increasing diversity of illustrators working in children's book publishing, tell stories ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous with extraordinary creativity and engaging wit. Get the Picture! includes approximately 20 works by each artist, drawn from their most recent titles.

"Bold, daring, funny, touching, sad and sometimes even a little dark, these artists create distinct, immersive worlds on the page," said Thomas Padon, director of the Brandywine River Museum of Art. "The exceptional group of artists represented in the exhibition work in a broad array of imaginative approaches and styles, bringing to life stories and characters that are now beloved by a large and loyal following.

"While this exhibition will be popular with a wide range of audiences, it is the latest project in an initiative to welcome children to the museum and engage them through art. With that in mind, the installation includes an inviting reading area for families, featuring all of the books created by these highly-talented artists."

Each of the artists in the exhibition is a recipient of Caldecott or other prestigious award, including Parent's Choice awards, The New York Times Best Illustrated awards, Coretta Scott King awards, and Theodor Seuss Geisel awards. Blackall, for instance, won the 2016 Caldecott Medal for Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear, and Collier won a Caldecott Honor for Trombone Shorty.

The New York Times recently noted that "picture books are entering a new golden age. Once considered a stagnant category . . . picture books account for nearly 40 percent of the 100 top-selling children's books."

Sophie Blackall creates marvelous books for the very young and for more advanced readers. Her paintings for The Mighty Lalouche recall the art of the early 20th-century French naïve painter Henri "Le Douanier" Rousseau.

Bryan Collier works in a collage style evocative of Romare Bearden, and his books often chronicle important figures of the African American experience, such as Dave the Potter, a 19th-century slave who defied the odds by learning to write, and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.

Raúl Colón, a master of jewel-like color and organic form, brings important Latino stories to the page, celebrating influential role models such as Leontyne Price and Sonia Sotomayor.

Marla Frazee's work captures the energy of children. She imbues her characters-a farmer and a clown, or a bossy baby -- with a beguiling blend of whimsical wit and touching tenderness that make her illustrations lively and engaging.

The youngest artist in the exhibition, Jon Klassen, creates clean, spare designs that evoke the work of the legendary master Leo Lionni. Klassen gives his stories and illustrations an edge, at once hilarious and disconcerting.

Melissa Sweet often combines translucent watercolor with found and re-purposed objects to create richly evocative illustration of fascinating details. The exhibition includes a selection of Sweet's illustrations for A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin.

David Wiesner's meticulous paintings show the artist's unparalleled ability to conceive the twists and turns of a story, seeding a child's imagination. Paintings from Spot, Wiesner's "book" for Ipad, take traditional materials into the digital age.

Mo Willems, who comes out of animating and writing for Sesame Street, knows how to tickle funny bones of all ages. His drawings depicting the trials and tribulations of an petulant pigeon and the comedic duo "Elephant and Piggie" deftly convey his grasp of juvenile humor.

In conjunction with this delightful major exhibition, the museum will present a robust slate of dynamic programming for all ages.

This exhibition is organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art with H. Nichols B. Clark as guest curator. Clark is founding director and chief curator emeritus of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. The Brandywine has a distinguished history of exhibitions focusing on American illustration, and this project represents a fresh commitment to bringing this tradition up to the current day.

Support for this exhibition has been provided by Wilmington Trust and Morris and Boo Stroud.

Resource Library editor's note:

The Brandywine River Museum of Art webpage for the exhibit contains three videos.

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